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Finally Friday Sets Up Mabilene With The Damn Quails

The Damn Quails
The Damn Quails

It’s true that for many people Friday is the end of the work week and the weekend is a chance for rest and personal pursuits. Of course that’s not true for everyone so let’s remember the servers and drivers and cops and so forth who work weekends for the good of everyone. But hopefully what we all have in common is that we can take an hour at lunch time on Friday to enjoy killer music over our video feeds, phones, radios and smart speakers. Because we’re back at it on Aug. 5 with honest songwriting from Nashville’s Mabilene and midwestern folk rock band The Damn Quails.

I don’t know what they have against those elusive ground-nesting game birds, but the Damn Quails got going through a weekly live jam session in Norman, OK anchored by songwriters Gabe Marshall and Bryon White. A forma band cohered out of that and they launched an aggressive road life with their debut album Down The Hatch in 2011. With a quirky and varied sound, they became rousing favorites on the Red Dirt circuit, playing a lot with fellow Oklahomans like John Fullbright, the Turnpike Troubadours and John Moreland. There’s been drama too, including a big fight with a record label and a long hiatus that left some fans wondering if they’d ever get to Quail again. Yes, is the answer, because White made the new album Clouding Up Your City, and Marshall is touring with White again. It’s a cool and curious album, with jangly and feisty tracks covering up for some self-aware lyrics about addiction and a general sense of entropy. Farce The Music calls it “an excellent case for why The Damn Quails are special, and why the Red dirt scene certainly feels more complete now that they have returned to it.”

Back in Music City, we hear from the mononymous artist Mabilene, who made her debut album The Other Side with second-generation Nashville veteran Jason Lehning in the producer’s chair. It’s flush with strings and horns, lending it a 1970s FM radio vibe, and her voice is a vibrato-laden instrument influenced by her young love of Emmylou, Dolly and Linda. The artist told Ditty TV that the album’s concept “is an invitation to move beyond polarity into community. It means seeking to understand when tempted to judge. Where fear would have us on constant defense, standing on opposite sides of a chasm, love builds a bridge.” Mabilene got her songwriting start in her hometown of Houston and then took her business to L.A., where she was part of folk outfit The Battlefield. She grew weary of that city and moved along to Nashville, and she reflects on the change in her melancholy farewell song “California.”

Mabilene will start the music at noon with Damn Quails to follow at 12:30.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. Twitter and Instagram: @chavighurst.